Ayzenberg Group, the Pasadena, Calif., indie agency that turned 25 today, has hired industry veteran Scott Cookson as executive creative director and his entire team of five from Ant Farm—the Omnicom-owned Hollywood entertainment marketing company that shuttered in July—to work across its gaming vertical.
The agency also promoted Gary Goodman to chief creative officer (Ayzenberg’s first) from principle and executive creative director. The new team will report to him.
“At Ayzenberg, we’re still committed to sharing great stories,” Goodman said. “Scott and his team represent some of the top creatives in the gaming industry and we’re looking to extend that unique style of storytelling across all of our verticals. This really is a great opportunity for our clients, new and old.”
Cookson’s team includes senior editor Beau Cassidy, senior creative producer Sean Brust, senior copywriter Aaron Fenn, senior capture director Andrew David Fox and associate producer Jack Sachanda. They will specifically be concentrated in Ayzenberg’s gaming vertical, working with clients such as Ubisoft and NBCUniversal.
The hires allow Ayzenberg ecd Matt Bretz, another Ant Farm alum, to reunite with some of his old colleagues; Cookson in particular. Bretz joined Ant Farm in 2005, one year after Cookson, and remained there until 2014. That year, Cookson and company also acted as one of the creative marketing leads for the release of Activision’s Destiny.
When Cookson said Omnicom informed Ant Farm of its decision to shutter its doors, it “caught everybody by surprise. … It’s incredibly sad.” He described the team as a “super tight family” who on average have worked together for seven years—some people he said he saw through personal milestones such as getting married and having kids.
So when Ant Farm turned off the lights, Cookson said his team decided “no matter what,” they would “stick together.” Cookson said the team went collectively around the Hollywood area, meeting with “a lot of different agencies” to discuss their options before landing on Ayzenberg.
“For me, aside from the obvious tragedy of Ant Farm closing its doors, it’s a dream come true,” Bretz said. “I always regretted leaving behind Scott and the rest of his team. They were great collaborators.”
“It was a win-win for both sides,” Cookson said, explaining that the team is excited to explore the realms of possibility with an integrated agency like Ayzenberg that has certain digital, strategic and analytical capabilities that Ant Farm did not. Ant Farm primarily focused on the creation of TV spots and trailers for Hollywood studios and had no strategy department, according to Cookson.
He added that he thinks Ayzenberg “is the most poised” for the future evolution of creative agencies—where content is still king but data and tech are the driving forces behind ideation.